Want to go?
What: 50th Annual Kentucky Ham Meal When: Feb. 5, from 6:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and from 5 p.m.-7 p.m.; Feb. 6, from 6:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Where: First Christian Church, 1301 23rd Ave. Carry out/drive thru available on 13th Street Cost: $8 per plate
Information: Call (601) 693-1425
First Christian Church will mark a half century of "hamming" it up at this year's 50th Annual Kentucky Ham Meal.
And while country fried ham and piping hot biscuits are the annual event's main draw, its overall purpose is to support the missions of First Christian Church – worldwide, as well as those closer to home.
"This is a testimony to the movement of the Spirit, the enthusiasm of members in mission, and the enduring call of Christ's church to be planted to blossom out in the community," said the Rev. Dr. Tom Sikes, pastor of First Christian.
The tradition of the Kentucky Ham Meal began in 1963 as a call for help. An appeal went out to the Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ) to help in modernizing Jackman Memorial Hospital in Bilaspur, India.
Wanting to respond to the need, FCC of Meridian's Christian Women's Fellowship decided to sponsor a fundraiser. At the suggestion of Dr. and Mrs. William Apperson, who had come to the Meridian church the previous year, the first Kentucky Ham Breakfast was organized.
The Appersons traveled to Kentucky and purchased 60 pounds of Kentucky cured hams and brought them back in the trunk of their car for the first breakfast. Almost $600 was raised for an offering sent to the Jackman Hospital that year.
Fifty years later, the amount of ham purchased has increased to more than 1,700 pounds. Serving times have increased to two days, and it is now called the Kentucky Ham Meal. Men and youth also lend a hand in what has evolved into a church-wide event.
The menu still includes ham, redeye gravy, grits, scrambled eggs, homemade biscuits, homemade preserves and coffee. Last year, more than 2,600 meals were served in the two-day period. In 2011 3,000 meals were served with the breakdown of food used and consumed as follows: 1,731 pounds of Kentucky Ham; 585 dozen eggs; 25 5-pound bags of grits; 20 pounds of margarine; 89 5-pound bags of flour; 22 6-pound cans of shortening; 65 one-half gallons of buttermilk; nine gallons of cooking oil; 7,200 butter singles; 3,125 jelly packs – plus 29 quarts, 37 pints and 23 half pints of jam, jelly and preserves.
Even more impressive is the number of organizations and causes which benefit from proceeds from the annual event.
"We can't emphasize enough how much this is about our church's missions and its commitment to helping the people of our community," said Sharon Busler, who co-chairs the FCC fundraiser.
In addition to the overall Disciple Mission Fund, proceeds from the fundraiser benefit the following organizations and causes: The Boys and Girls Club of East Mississippi, Care Lodge, East Mississippi State Hospital Child Activity Programs, Laurie Autry Fund, LOVE's Kitchen, Multi-County Community Agency, American Red Cross-Key Chapter, Scholarship for Hope Village (in memory of Annie Kate Ward), Jeff Anderson Regional Cancer Center Benevolence Fund, Jeff Anderson Regional Cancer Center Discretionary Fund, Blair E. Batson Children's Hospital, and First Christian Church Men's Program.